Fire couldn’t stop itself from turning a newspaper to ash. It could in 1953 England.
A fire suddenly appeared on top of the newspaper that Thomas Crane had just started to read. It only appeared on the top, though. Not the bottom. Just the top and it wasn’t turning that newspaper to ash. Thomas didn’t look like he was surprised that had happened. All he did was continue to stare at it.
Thomas tried to continue to read his newspaper, but the flames from the fire kept interfering with it. As he was trying to read it, his newspaper started to split down the middle. It got about halfway down before it stopped. Once again, Thomas didn’t look surprised.
For the next few minutes, that’s what Thomas did. He tried to read his newspaper. Then it happened. The fire next to his ungloved hand got even bigger. Thomas quickly removed the right hand and tossed his paper to the floor of his living room. He was about to stomp out the flames when they disappeared.
Leaning over, Thomas could see the newspaper hadn’t been affected by the fire. At least not physically. “That wasn’t the story I was just reading. It’s the same story as the last two times this has happened.”
“Do you know why you’re here Clare?” Detective Mitch Winters asked.
“Of Course, I do. It’s the same reason why you brought me in for questioning after the last two times there has been a newspaper fire,” said Clare Bennet.
Clare adjusted herself in her chair next to the desk where Mitch was sitting. “Almost every time something weird or that you can’t explain, you think that I did it.”
“You know you have been doing it, and we know it’s you. What we don’t know is how it’s being done.” Mitch turned his chair toward Clare.
“What makes you think I’m the one doing this?” Clare asked after she looked at Mitch.
Mitch leaned over his desk and became almost face-to-face with Clare. “We have a lot against you, but the thing that really says it’s you are the newspaper articles in the newspapers after the fires left it.”
“We still don’t know how you have done it, but we know it’s you,” continued Mitch. “After all, that newspaper article is about you.”
“That newspaper article isn’t about me,” said Clare. “I don’t know why someone is doing this to me, but I will find out who it is.”
Davis Kent was greeted by his son and daughter when he entered his house from work. As he reached down to scoop his preteens into his arms as he always did after coming home from work, Jason was handing him his newspaper. He quickly knocked it out of his hand.
Jason started rubbing his wrist as he looked at his father in wonder. “Why did you do that?”
“I’m sorry about that,” said Davis. “I appreciate what you have done, but I told you not to do that anymore.”
“It’s okay.” Jason was flexing his hand and wrist. “I’m okay. I know why you don’t want me to get your newspaper anymore. It’s because of the newspaper fires.”
Ellen offered his slippers to her father. “Is it okay if I give you your slippers?”
Davis smiled and patted Ellen on her head. “It’s okay if you give me my slippers.”
After taking his slippers from his daughter, Davis went into his den and closed the doors behind him. Once he takes off his shoes and puts on his slippers, he starts reading his newspaper. He gets to the third page of his newspaper before his paper started its fire sequence.
“Anything new with our suspect in these newspaper fires?” Mitch asked Detective Max Anderson behind the wheel of an unmarked police car after he lends down beside the driver’s side now open window.
Max looked at his partner Detective Scott Linden. Then he looked back at Mitch. “Nothing new. She hasn’t left her house in the last four hours.”
“That’s what the other three teams watching her house said.” Mitch looked through the patrol car windows at the house almost across the street from them.
“Are you sure it’s her in there?” Mitch asked.
Just then Clare looked out her living room window. She was looking right at them. “We’re sure,” said Scott. “She has been doing that every ten to fifteen minutes.”
“Clare is doing that to show us she’s still there.” Scott wrote something down in the small notebook on his lap. “She’s also doing it to tell us she knows we’re here.”
Max looked at Mitch. “Are you sure she’s the one causing all these newspaper fires?”
“I’m sure,” answered Mitch. “I just don’t know how she’s doing it yet.”
“No Offense,” said Max. “It doesn’t look like she’s doing it to me.”
Samuel Tyson threw his flaming newspaper to the floor in front of him. Only that time the fire didn’t disappear to reveal the same newspaper article as the last four have done. Instead, it caught a chair on fire. Within seconds that chair was gone and the fire had spread all over that den. Another few seconds and the smoke and flames were everywhere in that room.
Running out of that room, Samuel ran down the hall to the kitchen where his wife Jessica was. “Where are Albert and Nora?”
“They are upstairs doing their homework.” Jessica didn’t look at Samuel. She continued cooking. “Why do you want to know where they’re at?”
“There’s been another newspaper fire,” Samuel answered as he headed for the back stairs. “Only this one is going to burn down our house.”
Samuel stopped at the bottom of those stairs. “Get out of here while you can. I will get Albert and Nora.”
Jessicas was right beside Samuel as he ran up the back stairs. “They are fourteen and twelve. I don’t think you can get them both out by yourself.”
Vincent Brown was looking out his living room window at a large house fire a few blocks down from his house. At least he could see the second floor of it. “Isn’t that where Samuel Tyson lives?”
After looking at the flaming newspaper on the floor behind him, Vincent picked up a vase with flowers and water in it. He tossed both on that newspaper fire. The flowers burned up, but the water didn’t put the fire out. “Thought that something like this might happen.”
Keeping his eyes on that fire he walked to the end of the window where a hose entered under an almost closed window. Vincent grabbed the hose and turned it on. He doused the fire with water. No matter how much water he put in it, the fire didn’t go out.
About a minute after Vincent turned off the water, the fire disappeared. “I don’t need to read this newspaper article because I already know what it says.”
“Up until now what you have been doing has been just a big problem.” Mitch was pacing in front of a large table in a mirrored room on both sides of him and Clare. He only stopped when he said something to Clare.
“Now it’s a very big problem.” Mitch started pacing again. “Because now it’s murder.”
Mitch stopped pacing and sat opposite Clare. “You are in a whole lot of trouble.”
“No, I’m not.” Clare continued to just stare at Mitch. She was following him with her eyes. Now that he had stopped pacing, she was looking right at him. “That’s because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Yes, you have. What you have done has resulted in murder.” Mitch got up, but he didn’t start pacing again.
Instead, Mitch placed his hands on the back of his chair and leaned forward slightly. “What I want to know is how you have done it.”
“We have been watching you constantly for almost a month now, and you haven’t gone near the newspaper office. You haven’t gone near any of the victims either so far.”
“At first, I thought you did something to the newspaper ink. That would explain the written article. It doesn’t explain how you could select your victims, though.”
A gloved hand with a perfume size bottle squirted the newspaper on that front porch a couple of times. Then whoever was holding that bottle ran away just as Elliot Batson came out and got his newspaper. He looked in the direction of the runner. “Is someone there?”
After looking in that direction for several minutes, Elliot shrugged his shoulders once. “I guess not.”
Elliot picked up his newspaper and took it into his house. He went into his living room and sat down in a large chair in front of a flaming fireplace. At first, he just looked at the folded newspaper from different angles. “It doesn’t look like one of these newspaper fire newspapers.”
Once he unfolded it, he started reading the front page. After he finished it, he flipped through the next four papers until he got to the Business Section. He had barely started reading it when the newspaper fire suddenly appeared. Quickly, Elliot tossed the newspaper into the fire-breathing fireplace.
The whole newspaper burst into flames. After about a minute all of the fire in the fireplace disappeared. Now the only thing there was the undamaged newspaper. “This is 1953. Something like this shouldn’t be happening.”
“I think I know why you have done this, and I don’t blame you, but a family has died now.” Mitch sat across from Clare once again. Only now the chair was backward. He leaned over the top of it.
“I’ve read both this article and the re-written one that the newspaper fires created in what these fires have been doing. Can you explain that?”
Clare smiled sheepishly. “Do you think I’m that stupid? To write a replacement article that said what I have been doing. I’m not stupid. Are you? Isn’t it obvious someone is trying to frame me for this?”
“Unless you have done it this way to make everyone think you have been framed. A lot of my fellow police officers think you have. I’m not one of them.”
Just then another police officer entered. He whispered something to Mitch. Then he left. “There has been another newspaper fire. Only this time there may be a witness to you doing it.”
“When did this happen? If it’s within the last twenty-four hours, I couldn’t have been there. After all, I have been here with you.”
“You’re right. You couldn’t have been there, but your accomplice could have done it.”
A few minutes later, Clare was placed in a cell by Mitch. “I don’t have an accomplice. Have you ever seen me with anyone who could be an accomplice?”
“You’re a mad scientist just like your father. You could have used your madness to communicate with an accomplice without anyone knowing about it.”
“My father may have been a so-called mad scientist, and I am a scientist too, but that doesn’t mean I’m a mad scientist.” Clare sat down on the cot in her cell.
Mitch started to leave. “We will let the judge and jury decide you're guilty.”
After Mitch left Clare smiled sheepishly as she started thinking. Of course, I have been doing this. I’m sorry about the family who has died, but there will be probably a lot more before I’m done.
They will never figure out how I have been doing it, and soon they will have to let me go. When they do it, I will continue to get my revenge on those who said, wrote, I couldn’t create news with fire.
I still have a lot more problems to cause. Especially with Detective Mitch Winters. After what he did to my father, I will kill him, and it’s not going to be a quick or painless death either.
Word Count = 1,970